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How to Teach a Labrador Retriever New Tricks


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Your Labrador retriever is smart and wants to learn tricks, if for no other reason than to please you. Happy, well-adjusted dogs are the ones who are allowed playtime, romping, running, games and learning to keep their minds and bodies agile. A bored dog will exhibit signs by digging, chewing, wandering off or barking incessantly. It will help everyone in your family, especially your Lab, if you take the time to train them, discipline them and love them in equal measures.

You can start this process with a good standard obedience course, both on-leash and –off. Labrador retrievers are strong dogs when adult-sized, so it would behoove you to teach him manners before he gets big enough to push you around. Once your puppy is trained, maintaining the training into adulthood should become routine. No one wants a dog jumping up on strangers, nosing where they shouldn’t be nosing, digging up a garden, chewing on the baseboards or barking like a maniac at the slightest provocation. Training early on will establish with your dog who is the master in the home and out, and will help the dog be more secure, knowing there is a strong hand taking care of the big decisions and safety of the family.

Training a puppy to do tricks can be learned by reading books, from the Internet, or in a class specifically designed to help you. Labs can generally learn to sit, play fetch, shake “hands” and roll over with a minimum of effort, because they are smart and willing to learn and please. Retrievers have excellent noses and can be trained to find lost items; and retrieve them (hence the name). You can learn to train the dog tricks either with food rewards or affection rewards, both bringing the results you desire within a relatively short period of time. The affection/praise system of training might be desirable in Labrador retrievers simply because of their propensity for becoming overweight. Labs tend to load the pounds on if their diets are not strictly maintained, so food rewards should be closely monitored.

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Consistency is a big part of teaching a dog tricks. Firm, patient instructions and discipline given without a raised voice is an important tool. Frightening your dog will certainly not make them learn any faster; it will simply confuse them and make them insecure. You want the dog to respect you and bond with you and your family, so patience and consistency is key among all family members. If you are not at home, you want the comfort of knowing that the dog will respect everyone in the home, so it is important to let every family member be a part of teaching the dog. Familiarity and respect will come to your dog with even exposure to everyone in the house, so go on family walks and play in the park. Teaching your dog to fetch a tennis ball is great exercise for him, and a valuable opportunity for him to bond with you and the whole family.

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